Issues Aren’t Quite ‘Diamonds’

Issues have issues. Namely, they make their inter-band beef with singer Tyler Carter’s former band, Woe, Is Me, apparent in their lyrics. “King of Amarillo” begins with screamer Michael Bohn shouting, “Wrath to the industry” at the song’s outset. With their sound, Issues takes what Woe, Is Me did in creating a polarized sound that bounces between Carter’s smooth R&B voice and fellow vocalist Bohn’s screams, and dramatizes it a bit further.

The opening track is one produced by Scout, and it’s essentially a dubstep track before launching into “King of Amarillo.” This song takes an interesting approach of Bohn screaming lyrics that might otherwise be found in a rap song, dissing Woe, Is Me directly: “If you don’t like these lyrics / Then go listen to Genesis / Sega, we ain’t playing games.” “Genesi[s]” is the name of Woe, Is Me’s upcoming release, so there’s no discreetness here.

The balance of relatively typical post-hardcore verse riffs with synth-infused, somewhat poppy choruses that’s become the standard for the genre are here in “King of Amarillo,” but “The Worst of Them” takes a nice turn toward highlighting Carter’s vocal prowess, emphasizing his stylized runs and trills over straightforward breakdown-esque verses. Bohn’s minimal presence here detracts from the song, and doesn’t add anything significant; Issues should have stuck to having just one song that Carter could have had all to himself.

There are places where it feels like Issues is trying a little too hard to distance themselves from other bands in the genre, like with the opening piano sequence on “Princeton Ave” and the last couple of minutes of “Her Monologue,” which features Snow Tha Product. Also featuring on this album is Atilla frontman Fronz, whose unique brand of screaming makes an appearance on “Love Sex Riot,” which fits right in with Atilla’s own brand. While “Love Sex Riot” isn’t too bad on its own, it still sounds like a band trying too hard on their image.

In Issue’s defense, the vinyl scratch breakdowns at the beginning of “Love Sex Riot” and in the middle of “King of Amarillo” are admittedly pretty cool, hearkening back to an almost “Cure for the Itch” feel. What Issues does do with testing out new sounds and ideas with their music is admirable, but it feels like it falls just short of something that’s truly compelling and game-changing.

Final Rating: 2.5/5